Minnesota Sports Psychology Graduate Programs

Sports psychology programs are offered at the graduate certificate, masters, and doctoral levels. Some sports psychology degrees may help students fulfill sports psychologist ...

education requirements.i Others might appeal to current coaches, athletic trainers, educators, and counselors who want to develop specific skills. For instance, how to help a professional or amateur athlete set and reach goals. Or, how to perform consistently, manage anxiety, and concentrate.

What Is Sports Psychology?

Sport psychology, also called sport and performance psychology, is a proficiency recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA).ii As a multi-disciplinary field, sports psychology may require a broad base of knowledge. If often spans psychology, sports science, and medicine. Students in sports psychology graduate programs may take courses that address these themes.

  • Techniques of sport specific psychological assessment
  • Mental skills for performance enhancement and satisfaction
  • Social and developmental issue of sport participation
  • Exercise physiology, motor skills, sports medicine

FUN FACT

When surveyed, 37% of physical education professors and coaches reported they held a doctoral degree, 23% a masters degree.iii

What Does It Take to Become a Sports Psychologist? 

Sports psychology graduate programs may prepare students to launch or further a career as a sports psychologist. Essentially, there are four possible steps.

  1. Earn a Sports Psychology Degree: Per the APA, sports psychologists first earn a doctoral degree in psychology at an accredited counseling psychology program with sports psychology as an area of emphasis.ii
  2. Practicum: Most sports psychology schools require field research and or a period of supervised clinical experience.i
  3. Licensure: Graduates with a doctorate sports psychology degree may then be eligible to take state board licensure exams (Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology).i
  4. Certification: Licensed psychologists may apply for certification as a sports consultant through the Association for Applied Sports Psychology.iv

What Is a Sport Psychologist?

Sports psychologists address problems faced by athletes and sports participants. For instance, they have a keen grasp of how self-confidence is developed. They understand how emotion is managed and how to help someone overcome fear or lack of mental focus. And, they are skilled to know what types of clinical interventions are needed to keep an athlete motivated or cope with burnout.

Types of Sports Psychology Programs

Not all sports psychology programs have the same emphasis. If you aspire to pursue a career as a full-time sports psychology consultant, you might look for programs that highlight applied sport psychology. Or, if you want to be a professor, look for a sports psychology degree program that fosters opportunities to teach and research. And, of course, if your aim is to provide one-to-one counseling as a licensed psychologist, you need to think PhD or PsyD. You want your interests, whatever they are, to mirror the sports psychology graduate programs you apply to.

Sports Psychology Masters Programs  

Do you want to help improve athletic performance through sport-exercise psychology? Sports Psychology Masters programs may be offered as Master of Science in Sport Psychology and Master of Arts in Sport-Exercise Psychology.

  • Length: Full-time students may be able to complete a masters degree in sports psychology is about two years. Some MS sports psychology programs entail the completion of 60 credits, while some MA sports psychology programs may entail 30 to 48 credits. Credits and program lengths vary by schools and may be influenced by things such as whether students need to complete an integrative capstone project, thesis or practicum.
  • Apply: Applicants to sports psychology masters programs need to have earned a bachelors degree from an accredited institution along with school-specific requisites such as a minimum 3.0 GPA.
  • Coursework: Masters degree in sports psychology programs may include coursework on how psychology influences sports, athletic performance, kinesiology, and biomechanics. Classes may provide a solid foundation in the biological basis of behavior, performance enhancement, and ethics.

Sports Psychology Doctoral Programs

Are you interested in the psychology of human performance? A PhD in sport psychology is not intended to prepare graduates for the practice of psychology (or counseling or related discipline). Nor does it lead to licensure or credentialing as a mental healthcare practitioner. However, A PhD in general psychology with a sports psychology major may prepare graduates to apply theories of emotion, cognition, and motivation to understand ‘peak’ performance.

  • Length: Program length varies between 39 and 60 credits.
  • Apply: Applicants to sports psychology doctoral programs typically need a graduate degree and possibly related coursework.
  • Coursework: Topics of study may span the foundations of performance psychology, psychomotor aspects of sports, and research-based approaches to thought processes. Students may also have to contribute original thought and research to their field in their dissertation.

Applied Sports Psychology Graduate Certificate

Do you want to further your education? Some sports psychology graduate certificate programs offer a course of study that meets the education requirements for 'certified consultant’ through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (CC-AASP).iii Often, this type of program helps develop a student’s ability to create performance-enhancement programs for athletes and performers.

  • Length: While it may vary, in some cases students complete their certificate in less than one year as there may be as few as 6 courses or 16 semester credits.
  • Apply: Aside from school-specific requirements, a bachelors degree is typically required for a post-graduate certificate in sports psychology.
  • Coursework: Students who pursue a certificate in sports psychology often take courses from a masters or doctoral sport psychology degree program. Upon completion, participants may choose to earn their full degree in universities where it is possible to do so. Core courses may include professional practice, ethics, sports psychology, applied sports psychology, and mental skills training. Electives include coursework in counseling, coaching, biomechanics, and applied health behavior theory.

What Is an Applied Sport Psychologist?

Applied sport and exercise psychology brings both theory and research to educate coaches, athletes, parents, fitness professionals, and athletic trainers about the psychological aspects of their sport or activity.v AASP Certified Consultants (CC-AASP) are not necessarily titled ‘sport psychologist’ (unless they have the education and licensure).

What Is the AASP?

The Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP) is an international, professional organization that offers certification to those who have masters or doctorate degree. To obtain their credential (CC-AASP), a student must show they have completed specific coursework, a minimum of 400 hours of mentored and applied experience and been evaluated by the AASP’s Certification Review Committee. iii The AASP is not an accreditation agency, but students are advised to look for regionally accredited sports psychology graduate programs and schools.

Potential Careers in Sports Psychology

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for psychologists is estimated to grow 19 percent from 2014 to 2024.i Sports Psychology graduate programs may also prepare students to enhance or pursue other possible career paths.

  • Head Athletic Trainervi
  • Physical Therapistvii
  • Coach or Athletics Director viii
  • Chief Wellness Officerix
  • Fitness Studies Professor iii

Take the Next Step

Use the on-page menus to find a certificate, masters or PhD in sports psychology degree. You can look for sports psychology schools by city, state, or country. Or, if you need a flexible format, search paid programs to filter through online sports psychology degrees. Easily compare your options and contact the providers. Take the next step now!


[i] bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm | [ii] apa.org/ed/graduate/specialize/sports.aspx | [iii] onetonline.org/link/summary/25-1193.00 | [iv] appliedsportpsych.org/certified-consultants/ | [v] appliedsportpsych.org/about/about-applied-sport-and-exercise-psychology/ | [vi] onetonline.org/link/summary/29-9091.00 | [vii] onetonline.org/link/summary/29-1123.00 | [viii] onetonline.org/link/summary/27-2022.00 | [ix] onetonline.org/link/summary/11-9039.02

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